The holidays are a great time to show your clients that you appreciate them and their business. If this is done well it strengthens client relationships, helping with both retention and referrals.

While many Americans are still feeling the pain of the recession, sometimes an extravagant party can send the wrong message. Plus, with charities in need of help now more than in recent memory (as nonprofits are typically one of the last sectors to recover), a gathering to help a good cause can be a much bigger success.

The wealthier the clients, the more likely that they are philanthropic. Advisors who coordinate an event at a soup kitchen for the homeless, a toy drive for a local shelter or some other service to those in need will see that they deliver a more impactful warm-fuzzy feeling to their clients than what they might normally do through a party.

Clients who choose to participate benefit from the same ability to socialize with you, your staff and other clients, but at the same time they will create a lasting memory that will go way beyond a normal holiday event. Here are 10 tips to bear in mind if you are having a charitable event:

1. Know what charities your clients are involved with, from donations to board memberships. Track it in your CRM. Then see if you can tie in your efforts with theirs.

2. Take pictures of clients participating in events (with their permission) and post them on your website, send them out in your newsletter and consider adding them to other marketing collateral.

3. Welcome clients to bring other participants as a way to help the charity, while also increasing your exposure.

4. Invite strategic alliances and centers of influence, encouraging them to bring their clients, especially those that fit in with your ideal client profile.

5. Send out a press release before the event. Local media like to cover fundraisers and volunteerism, especially around the holidays.

6. Send a follow-up press release after the event with details of what was achieved and include some good pictures.

7. Share a thank-you note received from the charity with each participant.

8. Follow up with handwritten thank-you cards reminding each client what was achieved. If possible, include a picture of the client in question.

9. If you want to send a gift to a client that compliments this charity involvement, consider sending a framed picture of the group, possibly with the name and logo of both the charity and your firm. Include the year as this allows you to build an annual tradition.

10. Integrate charity involvement into your firm’s core values, business plan and marketing materials, as it can help you positively differentiate yourself from the competition.

This holiday season, make an impression on your clients that “wows” them and they will talk about it. Trust me… you will see that by giving back, you will actually be rewarded in many ways.

Happy holidays!

Read full article on this topic in the December 2010 issue of Bank Investment Consultant.

Mike Byrnes is founder and president of Byrnes Consulting in Boston. The firm specializes in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas. For more information, visit byrnesconsulting.com.